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Is telehealth here to stay?

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With the surge of doctors’ offices transitioning to telemedicine platforms during the coronavirus crisis, many patients are left wondering whether the remote services are a practical alternative to your average doctor visit.

Telehealth and telemedicine platforms allow doctors and nurses to practice medicine virtually. You can easily get a prescription refill or ask your doctor questions at the click of a button without ever setting foot in an office. The convenience of the “e-doc” is meant to streamline medicine and the services it provides. More recently doctors have been using the platform to keep their patients safe from the coronavirus.

Dr. Carolynn Francavilla-Brown, a family practitioner who has been using telehealth platforms for the last three years, says her practice went from 10 percent of patients using the digital health platform to 95 percent when COVID-19 hit.

“We are starting all encounters for our clinic via telehealth and then we are bringing people into the office if we already know they need to be there,” Francavilla-Brown told Fox News.

Mara McCrossin, a neurosurgical nurse practitioner for a private company who also uses telehealth applications, agrees that it’s helpful for those who don’t have easy access to the doctor. However, she doesn’t think it will replace a trip to the doctor entirely.

“How a patient walks into a room can tell you a big story, and not having that ability to see the patient walk or move can actually delay care and not give you the full big picture as to what’s going on with them,” McCrossin told Fox News.

Both health care professionals say remote health visits don’t affect the way they care for their patients, but it can make diagnoses a little more challenging without a hands-on approach.

“I still ask the same questions, [but] not being able to touch or feel a patient definitely plays a role [in treatment],” McCrossin said.

When it comes to a regular doctor’s office visit, it seems there is no replacement technology can provide. However, Francavilla-Brown believes telehealth platforms do have the potential to replace urgent care facilities.

“Urgent care is such a mixed bag. There’s some really high-level urgent cares that can give IV fluids and do EKGs and rule out heart attacks, but most urgent cares are really treating a lot of urinary tract infections, viruses, colds. And so I think it largely can [eliminate the need for urgent care facilities].”

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